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Congregation votes to cede from the Scottish Episcopal Church

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 2:52pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A congregation in the northeast Scottish coastal city of Aberdeen is preparing to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church. Members of Westhill Community Church voted Jan. 17 by 83 percent to 13 percent to leave the Anglican Communion’s province in Scotland following what they say is the “continued liberal trajectory” of the church.

Read the full article here.

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Anglican Consultative Council prepares to meet in April in Hong Kong

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 2:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The next meeting of the triennial Anglican Consultative Council begins in 100 days time in Hong Kong.

“As chair of ACC and primate of the host province, I cannot be more excited and honored to welcome all ACC delegates representing 40 provinces and coming from 160 countries assembling in Hong Kong,” Archbishop Paul Kwong said.

The meeting will take place April 28 to May 5. The Anglican Consultative Council is one of four “Instruments of Communion” of the Anglican Communion.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopalians to join wide range of weekend events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 2:40pm

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 4, 2018, to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] Dioceses and congregations churchwide are planning events this weekend, from worship services to forums, for Episcopalians and their communities to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King, whose federal holiday will be celebrated on Jan. 21, was born 90 years ago on Jan. 15, 1929. As a Baptist preacher in Montgomery, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia, he was the leading voice and icon of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s and 1960s until his assassination in 1968.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will mark the holiday weekend by participating in a panel discussion during a King event at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Apollo Theater in New York’s Harlem neighborhood. “Unsung Champions of Civil Rights from MLK to Today” will feature a mix of one-on-one interviews and panels focusing on King’s legacy and other civil rights figures. More info and a link to a live stream of the event can be found here.

Curry quoted King on “the redemptive power of love” in his much-heralded royal wedding sermon in May. “Dr. King was right,” Curry said. “We must discover love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.”

Daylong activities are planned at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 21, including a continuous reading of King’s speeches, sermons and writings over eight hours. “Let Freedom Ring” will be held in the church’s nave.

The Rev. Mike Kinman, rector at All Saints, said the marathon of readings was an idea he hatched years ago while serving as dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri. It stemmed from his personal tradition of reading from a collection of King’s writings and speeches every year on the federal holiday.

“We advertised it as a complement of reflection to the King National Day of Service activities taking place in the community. And people came,” Kinman said, recalling the St. Louis event in an online post for All Saints. “They came for a half hour, for two hours, for the entire day. They read and they listened. School groups came after doing service projects and then had conversations about how what they had done and what they heard were related.”

This will be All Saints’ third year hosting a similar marathon of King’s words.

“I hope you will join me in … coming down for an hour, or two, or even eight and letting the words of this great man wash over you,” Kinman said. “Hear more than just the sound bites, and let your life be set on fire.”

Some congregations are planning to join large community celebrations. In St. Petersburg, Florida, the city’s Episcopal churches will participate in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, said to be that longest-running parade in the country to honor King.

In the Diocese of East Tennessee, eight or nine Episcopal parishes and ministries are expected to march in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Knoxville, with the Episcopal School of Knoxville entering its own float. In Austin, Texas, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church will join a downtown march on Jan. 21, starting at the King statue on the University of Texas’ campus.

The Diocese of Georgia is continuing its tradition of participating in an annual parade in Savannah, which typically includes a diocesan float and up to 100 Episcopalians. A post-parade Eucharist will be held at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

At other churches, the congregations are inviting the public inside for more intimate commemorations.

St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., will celebrate King’s life and legacy at its two Sunday services Jan. 20 and follow up with the launch of a series of forums, “Instruments of Change: From White Guilt to Empowered Ally.” Church of the Holy Spirit in Lebanon, New Jersey, will host a service at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 that will feature readings from King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as well as cello and organ music.

The series of events hosted by All Saints in Pasadena will include a Diocese of Los Angeles event at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 featuring music by the Episcopal Chorale Society and a speech by Devon Carbado, a law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Through their faith-based approach that embodies Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision, the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing works to move us from chaos to community. In celebration of Dr. King's birthday, consider making a donation to the Center. https://t.co/jILNzsqBEe pic.twitter.com/5Ygbnxgul0

— Episcopal Atlanta (@episcopalatl) January 16, 2019

Service work is another common theme of Episcopalians’ plans for honoring King’s calls for justice.

The Diocese of Long Island’s Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministries is organizing a day of service work at two locations on Jan. 21. Young people will bag about 15,000 meals for a feeding ministry from 1 to 3 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Then from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. they will greet guests and help serve a weekly community meal at Christ Episcopal Church in Babylon.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, churches are participating in their local Day of Service on Jan. 21, as well as the city’s march and worship service. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Liverpool, New York, also has service activities planned for its parishioners. Trinity Episcopal Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, will spend the morning Jan. 21 packing breakfast bags and making hot meals for residents confined to their homes.

Such service projects coincide with the MLK Day of Service, backed by Congress and coordinated by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The message was to see the federal holiday as a “day on, not a day off.”

In this week's newsletter…MLK celebrations across the Diocese, Bishop's office hours and more. https://t.co/GV8Lsnjwdt #diopalove #MLKday2019 #MLK pic.twitter.com/PCdnw0YJRY

— Episcopal Diocese PA (@DiocesePA) January 18, 2019

The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, rector at Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, took that message a step further in a blog post this week looking ahead to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He urged Episcopalians to see the holiday as not just a day of service but a day of action.

“King was not an advocate for more feeding programs,” Kerbel wrote. “He worked tirelessly for changes to our laws that would create a more just order where feeding programs would not be so necessary. He worked to create the conditions where all people could exercise self-determination and self-sufficiency, for themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods.”

St. Martin-in-the-Fields is partnering with the interfaith organization POWER Philadelphia in offering a schedule of activities for the MLK Day of Action, including a rally outside a McDonald’s to call for a minimum wage increase and a “teach-in” to rally behind public policies that will improve education.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Tennessee bishop recruits neighboring colleague to implement same-sex marriage rites

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 2:38pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt announced Jan. 18 that neighboring Bishop Brian Cole of East Tennessee will “provide pastoral support” to Tennessee couples, clergy and congregations who want to solemnize same-sex marriages.

To begin that process, Bauerschmidt wrote in a two-page description of his policy, all canonically resident clergy in the diocese must notify him and assure him that the cleric’s congregation agrees to their use.

Bauerschmidt, who opposes same-sex marriage, said that “where there is disagreement in teaching about the sacramental rite of marriage between bishop and clergy there can be no effective oversight of marriage by the diocesan bishop.” Thus, another bishop must be available to “provide whatever episcopal support is needed for couples and clergy preparing for marriage.”

Bauerschmidt said his policy applies whether the trial-use rites or any other marriage rite is used.

Cole will handle the canonically required episcopal permission needed (Canon I.19.3 (page 60 here)) in what Bauerschmidt previously called the “extraordinary instance of the remarriage of a person with a previous spouse still living.”

Bauerschmidt said that the two rites for marriage, which General Convention first authorized in 2015 for trial use by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, cannot be used in mission and chaplaincy churches of which he is effectively the rector, or in facilities for which he is directly responsible.

Before formulating his policy, the bishop issued two “pastoral teaching” essays, one on the bishop’s role and one on the “church’s traditional teaching on marriage.” At the end of his policy statement, Bauerschmidt reminded clergy of the “obligations undertaken at ordination, and the role of the bishop as chief pastor, and commended to them the teaching on marriage.

The policy, he said in a letter that accompanied it, is “intended to promote the highest degree of communion and fellowship in a time of challenge for the church. These provisions require consultation. No document can answer every question in advance.”

General Convention in 2015 said that the bishops of the church’s domestic dioceses needed to give their permission for the rites to be used or “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.”. (The Episcopal Church includes a small number of dioceses outside the United States in civil jurisdictions that do not allow marriage for same-sex couples.)

There was widespread acceptance of the rites across the church. However, eight diocesan bishops in the 101 domestic dioceses did not authorized their use. Bauerschmidt was among those eight, as was Diocese of Albany Bishop William Love, Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer, Dallas Bishop George Sumner, Florida Bishop John Howard, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, Springfield Bishop Dan Martins and Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs.

The eight bishops required that couples wanting to use the rites be married outside their dioceses and away from their home churches. Some bishops, including Love, refused to allow priests in their diocese to use the rites anywhere.

Last July, convention attempted to remedy to the situation by passing Resolution B012, which went into effect on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2. Bishops and deputies moved the authority for deciding to use the rites from the diocesan bishop to parish priests.

B012 said diocesan bishops who do not agree with same-sex marriage “shall invite, as necessary,” another Episcopal Church bishop to provide “pastoral support” to the couple, the clergy member involved and the congregation. Some of the eight bishops have interpreted B012 as requiring – or allowing them to require – the involvement of another bishop.

Christopher Hayes, who as a deputy from California proposed the amended version that convention passed, has told Episcopal News Service that the key phrase is “as necessary.” Hayes thinks some bishops are misinterpreting that to mean “necessary” by mere fact of the bishops’ disagreement, whereas he understands it to mean pastorally necessary. Such pastoral necessity, he said, would be rare.

B012 makes the rites available within every diocese of The Episcopal Church where civil law permits same-sex marriage.

Shortly after convention, Bauerschmidt said B012 sets up “a particular structure that upholds the bishop’s unique role as chief pastor and teacher and presider at the liturgy,” even when the bishop cannot support same-sex marriage.

Some Tennessee Episcopalians grew concerned when Dec. 2 came and went without a policy from Bauerschmidt. A group of more than 100 lay and ordained Tennessee Episcopalians connected with All Sacraments for All People wrote letters to Bauerschmidt and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Jan. 7 to decry the former’s refusal to institute a policy for implementing B012. They noted that at least one couple and their priest have asked Bauerschmidt for guidance and were told to wait.

“Other committed couples anxiously wait to make their vows before God surrounded by the communities who love and support them,” the group told Bauerschmidt.

“We therefore are reluctantly notifying you of this delay in making the trial liturgies available in this diocese,” the signers told Curry.

Love is the only one of the eight who initially refused to permit use of the rites who has flatly refused to conform to B012. On Jan. 11, Curry prevented him from punishing clergy, laity and congregations who wish to use the rite, and Curry has referred the matter for investigation through the church’s clergy discipline process. Love is appealing the restriction.

Gumbs now has told his clergy to offer the rites without further obstacles. The other bishops, like Bauerschmidt, have said they intend to ask another bishop to assist when congregations ask to use the rites.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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US churches raise money to buy ambulance, save Anglican hospital in West Bank city

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 3:29pm

St. Luke’s Hospital is a charity hospital in Nablus, West Bank, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Photo: AFEDJ, from video

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal congregation in the Diocese of Washington is rallying its parishioners and other churches behind an Anglican hospital thousands of miles away in the West Bank city of Nablus, where the loss of an ambulance could cost the charity hospital its accreditation, forcing it to close its doors.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norwood Parish, took a leading role last fall in raising money for St. Luke’s Hospital, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and by the end of the year, donors had pledged enough to pay for a new ambulance.

The Rev. Sari Ateek is rector of St. John’s Norwood in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Photo: St. John’s Norwood.

“The exiting thing wasn’t so much how much money. It was more the enthusiasm of the response from people around this,” said the Rev. Sari Ateek, rector at St. John’s Norwood in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Ateek, a Palestinian Christian and son of an Episcopal priest, grew up in Jerusalem and moved to the United States at age 19 to attend college. He doesn’t return often to his native land, though in 2014, he led his congregation on its first Holy Land pilgrimage. Afterward, St. John’s Norwood began supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem though contributions to American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, or AFEDJ, and the congregation now pays part of a nurse’s salary at St. Luke’s.

Last year, St. Luke’s was in a bind after the breakdown of its 15-year-old ambulance, which had been making more than 2,000 emergency trips a year. Not only did it lose use of the vehicle, but the Palestinian Ministry of Health said at least one working ambulance was required to maintain the hospital’s accreditation. The Ministry of Health gave the hospital a February deadline to comply, and the hospital estimated it would cost $110,000 for a new ambulance, equipment, licensing and insurance.

“At first I was amazed that the hospital only had one ambulance,” Ateek said. “It just became very clear that this was something we needed to do.”

After AFEDJ launched a fundraising campaign, Ateek wrote a letter in late November in his church’s newsletter detailing the hospital’s plight. He refrained from making a direct appeal to his parishioners for money, but several came forward with large donations, including one of $20,000. Those, combined with smaller donations, brought the total from St. John’s Norwood to $37,000.

Ateek obtained a list of churches of all denominations in the Washington, D.C.-area that had given to AFEDJ in the past. He went down that list and reached out by email with personalized messages asking for contributions to pay for the ambulance. Among them, Washington National Cathedral pledged $10,000, and Grace Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Virginia, raised $13,000, bringing the total from Ateek’s ecumenical efforts to about $75,000.

With an additional $27,000 from the U.K.-based Anglican Communion Fund, AFEDJ had nearly met its goal for the ambulance campaign.

“People are hungry to do good work like this,” said the Rev. Anne Derse, a deacon at St. John’s Norwood, who served for six years as a U.S. ambassador, first to Azerbaijan and then to Lithuania.

Derse participated in the church’s 2014 Holy Land pilgrimage, a “life-changing experience” that prompted the congregation to form a Holy Land Committee. Part of the committee’s mission is to support humanitarian work that helps the neediest and most vulnerable residents of Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.

The hospital in Nablus and Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza are just two of many such humanitarian ministries led by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

“Those projects are wonderful Christian witness in the Holy Land, because they’re open to anyone,” Derse said.

Her congregation has followed up with Holy Land pilgrimages every two years, and on the 2018 pilgrimage, participants visited St. Luke’s Hospital for the first time. That fueled the interest in paying for part of a nurse’s salary, and it later provided additional grounding for Ateek’s attempt to raise money for the ambulance.

“Honestly, the need speaks for itself,” Ateek said. “You have this hospital that we want to continue to serve the population, and we can solve this. … And we did, which is super exciting.”

Even with a new ambulance, AFEDJ underscores that financial struggles are an ongoing challenge at the Diocese of Jerusalem’s medial facilities, which face uphill battles to remain open for everyone who needs care, regardless of their ability to pay for that care.

Those struggles were underscored in December when a building collapsed at a surgical outpatient clinic on the campus of Al Ahli Arab Hospital. The 120-year-old building apparently was empty that afternoon at the time of the collapse, and no one was injured.

An engineer and construction team have surveyed the damage and recommended about $150,000 in reconstruction work, the diocese said. Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani has launched an appeal for donations to rebuild the clinic.

St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, West Bank, is one of two run by the Diocese of Jerusalem. The other is in Gaza. Photo: AFEDJ, via video.

“In Nablus City we have five different hospitals. St. Luke’s Hospital is the only charitable hospital and the only church hospital in the West Bank,” Dr. Walid Kerry, executive director of St. Luke’s, said in a video produced by AFEDJ. “We are happy to give the medical care and surgery to everyone who asks for it, especially the needy and poor patients.”

The Episcopal Church has supported and remains closely engaged with the Anglican diocese’s work in Israel and the Palestinian territories for many years. The diocese is among the recipients of grants from the Episcopal Church’s Good Friday Offering, which collected a record $414,310 in 2017 to support ministries in the Middle East.

AFEDJ, an independent and nonpartisan nonprofit, is the recommend partner organization for Americans interested in supporting the work of the Diocese of Jerusalem, which covers Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Donations can be made at afedj.org/give.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Anglican Communion secretary general honored for Nigerian reconciliation ministry

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 3:20pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon has received the inaugural Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation 2019 Merit Award for Excellence in Promoting Religious Tolerance and Peace Building in Northern Nigeria, an award created to honor the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, KBE, the Sardauna of Sokoto and premier of the former Northern Region.

Read the full article here.

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Terror attack in Kenya leaves ‘trail of pain and untold suffering,’ church says

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 3:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] This week’s terror attack in Nairobi has “left behind a trail of pain and untold suffering among innocent and hardworking citizens,” the Anglican Church of Kenya said in a written statement. At least 21 people are known to have been killed after militants from al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate, attacked the DusitD2 hotel and business complex in Nairobi on Jan. 15. A further 19 people are still unaccounted for.

Read the full article here.

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Bishop of Zululand, Monument Makhanya, steps down after sexual misconduct allegation

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:30am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A bishop in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has stepped down after being accused of sexual misconduct. The Sunday Times newspaper in Johannesburg reported at the weekend that Bishop Monument Makhanya has decided to stand down at the end of this month after a former deacon in the diocese lodged a complaint of sexual misconduct against him. Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba told the Anglican Communion News Service that he would seek the input of the province’s Synod of Bishops in response to the resignation.

Read the entire article here.

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Zimbabwean Anglicans launch football team for new diocesan university

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:19am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The 2019 football season in Zimbabwe will see a new team in the Mashonaland East Division Two: Anglican Saints, owned by the local Anglican diocese of Harare. Anglican Saints will eventually be part of the new diocesan university being built in Mashonaland East, but until that is built, it will use the Greendale Sports Club as its home ground. The team will be managed by Lawrence Nyarumwe, a former assistant coach with Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League side Shabanie Mine, assisted by Basil Makoni. The team aims to climb the leagues to play in the top division within two years.

Read the entire article here.

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Episcopales de todo el país responden al impacto del cierre federal

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 4:15pm

[Episcopal News Service] Mientras los efectos del cierre más largo del gobierno federal se replican a través del país, muchos episcopales sienten por igual la necesidad económica mientras otros tratan de ayudar a sus prójimos a hacerle frente.

“Entiendo lo que está en juego. Entiendo que es más grande que mi mero salario”, dijo el episcopal Christopher Dwyer, veterano que trabaja para el Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano, a Lester Holt de NBC News el 10 de enero.

Dwyer, que es miembro de la  iglesia de Cristo [Christ Church] en Bloomfield Glen Ridge y seminarista de la Escuela Teológica de Drew en Madison, Nueva Jersey, le dijo a Holt que él pronto tendría que encontrar otro trabajo, afirmando que su seguro de desempleo finalmente se acabará. (Si bien las reglas varían de un estado a otro, los beneficios de desempleo por lo general pagan un porcentaje del salario del beneficiario y los empleados federales se dice que tendrán que reembolsar sus beneficios si reciben pagos retroactivos).

De aplazamiento de matrículas escolares a leña gratuita y grupos de apoyo para [combatir] la ansiedad, las respuestas recorren toda la gama en los barrios de Washington, D.C., las reservas nativoamericanas y las comunidades costeras.

Las reservas están entre las más afectadas debido a su dependencia de toda clase de ayuda federal. Esa dependencia quedó consagrada hace siglos en tratados entre las tribus y el gobierno de EE.UU., en los cuales las tribus cedieron enormes territorios a cambio de muchas garantías, incluido dinero para servicios como atención sanitaria y educación.  La Oficina de Asuntos Indios ofrece esos servicios, ya sea directamente o a través de subvenciones a 567 tribus reconocidas federalmente. Es decir, aproximadamente 1,9 millones de indios americanos y de nativos alasqueños se ven afectados.

Rodney Bordeaux, presidente de la tribu de los Sioux Rosebud  ha dicho que el 74 por ciento de los ingresos del presupuesto de la tribu es dinero federal. Bordeaux y otros líderes tribales se proponen ir a Washington esta semana para reunirse con legisladores.

La Rda. Lauren R. Stanley, presbítera superintendente de la misión episcopal Rosebud (Oeste) in Dakota del Sur, y el Rdo. John Floberg, sacerdote a cargo de la parte de Dakota del Norte en la misión episcopal de Standing Rock, le dijeron a Episcopal News Service  que los gobiernos tribales están considerando cerrar parte de sus operaciones por carecer del dinero de las subvenciones federales.

Stanley dijo que está recibiendo llamadas en que le piden ayuda para pagar facturas de electricidad y gas propano. La cooperativa eléctrica está colaborando con los trabajadores federales suspendidos temporalmente, pero otros residentes de la reserva se están desesperando, señaló ella. Es ahí donde interviene el programa  “Leña para los Mayores”de la misión. Stanley dijo que las temperaturas en Dakota del Sur han estado “bien”; a 3º.C en la tarde del 14 de enero, pero hay pronóstico de nieve para el 18 de enero y se espera una temperatura máxima de -8º.C.  Stanley explicó que el programa está proporcionándole leña no sólo a los miembros más viejos de la tribu, sino a cualquier familia afectada por el cierre [del gobierno] y a los trabajadores suspendidos.

Las personas están preocupadas por el Programa Asistencial de Nutrición Suplementaria del Departamento de Agricultura de EE.UU., SNAP o EBT como se le conoce en la Reserva Rosebud. Los beneficios de enero estaban disponibles el 10 de enero, y se anunció que el dinero de febrero será depositado en las cuentas de las personas el 20 de enero. Stanley dijo que ella teme que algunas personas no podrán presupuestar ese dinero para que les dure hasta fines de febrero.

Si bien el Departamento de Agricultura (USDA por su sigla en inglés) ha dicho que su Programa Suplementario de Alimentos hará las entregas planeadas en febrero, Stanley dijo que muchos alimentos no están llegando y que los beneficiarios están recibiendo cheques de emergencia para redimirlos cuando lleguen.

“La misión episcopal Rosebud está comprometida a ayudar a los más necesitados”, dijo Stanley a ENS.

Y personas a través del país han estado preguntándole cómo pueden ayudar, ofreciendo donaciones de bienes materiales, dinero y tarjetas de regalo. Stanley le dice a la gente que el dinero y las tarjetas de regalo son mejores porque cada familia tiene diferentes necesidades.

El cierre parcial del gobierno entró en su 24º. día el 14 de enero, convirtiéndose en el más largo en la historia de EE.UU., mientras el Congreso y el presidente Donald Trump siguen enfrentados por su demanda de miles de millones de dólares para la construcción de un muro en la frontera sur. En este día que sienta récord, Trump rechazó una sugerencia de que permitiera que el gobierno reabriera temporalmente mientras continuaban las negociaciones en torno a la seguridad en la frontera.

Alrededor de 800.000 empleados federales, más de la mitad de los cuales aún continuaba trabajando, no habían recibido paga el 11 de enero. El Congreso le ha enviado a Trump un proyecto de ley para darle a esos trabajadores paga retroactiva  una vez que el cierre concluya. El Presidente ha dicho que la firmaría.

Tales promesas, sin embargo, no ayudan al flujo de efectivo de los trabajadores afectados, de ahí que los episcopales intervengan. Por ejemplo, la escuela diurna episcopal de San Patricio, [St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School] en Washington, D.C., le dijo a los padres el 7 de enero, el día que la escuela reanudó clases luego de las vacaciones de Navidad, que los padres que fueran empleados o contratistas federales y tuvieran dificultades para pagar matrícula y costes pueden diferir esos pagos sin cargos adicionales. Tendrán que estructurar un plan de reembolso más adelante.

El director de la escuela,  Peter A. Barrett, le dijo a ENS el 14 de enero que muchas escuelas episcopales no hay duda de que se encuentran en situaciones semejantes, especialmente en el área de Washington.

Para algunos empleados federales, las necesidades son más básicas. En la Despensa del Señor [Lord’s Pantry] un ministerio de la iglesia episcopal de San Jacobo [St. James Episcopal Church] en New London, Connecticut, Eleanor Godfrey le dijo a un noticiero de televisión local que la despensa está a la espera de ayudar.

“Este es probablemente el mejor lugar para venir a obtener alimentos. Ciertamente espero que las personas que se vean afectadas por el cierre no tengan pena [en venir] porque en San Jacobo estamos aquí para ustedes y queremos que vengan”, dijo Godfrey, la directora de la despensa.

Más de 7.000 empleados federales  trabajan en Connecticut y el gobierno federal es un importante empleador en la parte sureste del estado donde se encuentra New London sobre el estrecho de Long Island. New London es la sede de la Academia de la Guardia Costera. Los empleados de la Guardia Costera han quedado sin paga porque son parte del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, uno de los departamentos afectados por el cierre parcial.

La despensa también está propagando la voz a través de las redes sociales.

El comedor de beneficencia comunitario de la iglesia episcopal de Cristo  [Christ Church] en New Haven, Connecticut, está diciéndole a los trabajadores que han quedado sin paga que son bienvenidos. “San Pablo nos dice en la Escritura que el obrero merece su salario. Y esperamos que el gobierno reabra y les paguen a los obreros que están trabajando”, dijo el Rdo. Stephen Holton a una estación local de televisión de NBC. “Todo el mundo merece una comida, y este es un lugar donde puedes recibirla. Ven y come. Ven y comemos juntos”, dijo.

En Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Jackson Cupboard, una despensa de alimentos de iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] está asociándose con el Banco de Alimentos de las Rocosas en Wyoming [Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies] para organizar una despensa móvil el 15 de enero.

Cuando la Despensa Episcopal 4Santos  [4Saints Episcopal Food Pantry] publicó su anuncio, lo compartieron 25 veces, una cantidad inusual para la despensa, lo cual llevó a la directora. Judy Cariker. A pensar en la existencia de una necesidad.

Entre tanto, allá en Georgia, el Muy Rdo. Alexis Chase, vicario de la iglesia episcopal del Santo Consolador [Holy Comforter] en Atlanta, acudió a Facebook el 14 de enero para ofrecer a “amigos cesantes” la oportunidad  de algún consuelo.

El “Estudio Bíblico del Cesante“ [Furlough Bible Study] es sólo una de las maneras en que la iglesia episcopal de San Columba  [St. Columba’s Episcopal Church] en el noroeste de Washington, D. C., está tratando de ayudar. El estudio bíblico para “aquellos con un tiempo inesperado en su jornada y un deseo de reunirse con otros visitantes”comienza el 16 de enero. El Grupo de la Madre [Mothers Group] en San Columba coordinará un conversatorio dirigido profesionalmente con consejos prácticos acerca de cómo controlar la ansiedad y sus efectos.

“Algunos de ustedes me han dicho que, aunque han vivido otros cierres del gobierno en el pasado, esta vez parece particularmente alarmante”,  dijo el Rdo. Ledlie Laughlin, rector de San Columba, a su congregación el 9 de enero. “Otros me han dicho que están haciendo malabares para resolver sus finanzas, calculando el costo sobre sus ahorros en ausencia de un salario. Este es un tiempo para juntarnos, para cuidar los unos de los otros, y para ocuparnos de nuestros prójimos”.

Laughlin dijo que la oración debe ser la primera respuesta de los episcopales. San Columba está incluyendo a todos los afectados por el cierre en su oraciones dominicales y diarias.

(La II Provincia de la Iglesia Episcopal ha ofrecido “Una letanía por los afectados por el cierre del gobierno”que puede encontrarse aquí.)

San Columba también está “reuniendo e identificando recursos”para personas que pueden estar enfrentando dificultades por primera vez y no saben donde encontrar ayuda para alimentos y otras necesidad, explicó él.

Y Laughlin instó a los feligreses que necesiten ayuda económica a dirigirse a él y también les pidió a los “que tienen suficiente para ayudar a alguien más” a ponerse en contacto con él.

La Iglesia Episcopal también está respondiendo con acción social en Washington. Su Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales ha pedido un fin del cierre, diciendo que “cerrar nuestro gobierno es un fracaso del liderazgo y del reconocimiento de la responsabilidad que conlleva el ser un funcionario electo”.

“El cierre del gobierno tiene grandes implicaciones para nuestro país en la medida en que afecta la subsistencia de empleados federales y sus familias; así como de aquellos que dependen del apoyo federal para alimento, vivienda, servicios médicos, y más; y a los servicios vitales del gobierno, tales como seguridad aeroportuaria, proceso de hipotecas y de préstamos estudiantiles, y una amplia gama de servicios que el gobierno federal es responsable de prestar a las comunidades nativoamericanas”, dijo la oficina en un comunicado del 9 de enero.

Basando sus comentarios en la política de la Iglesia tal como ha sido establecida por la Convención General, la ORG dijo que el Congreso y el Ejecutivo deben trabajar juntos para abordar las legítimas necesidades de seguridad, garantizar la responsabilidad legal del gobierno de procesar a los solicitantes de asilo, tratar a todos los migrantes con humanidad y respeto y promulgar políticas que aborden las causas raigales y ayuden a aliviar las condiciones que motivan la migración forzada en Centro y Sudamérica.

– La Rda Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora sénior y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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First couple to marry under Church of South India’s ‘Green Wedding’ protocol

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 2:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] When Anjay and Nisha, a young couple from Kerala, were married at St Thomas’ Church in Punnackadu, last month, they planted saplings as part of the Church of South India’s new “Green Wedding” protocol. The couple were the first to be married in the CSI since the Green Protocol for Green Discipleship policy, which includes weddings, was agreed by the CSI synod in December. In addition to the planting of saplings instead of the traditional lighting of a lamp; couples are encouraged to avoid plastic bottles at their reception by serving water in glasses.

Read the entire article here.

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Interim director of the Anglican Centre in Rome rebuffs ‘resurrection’ criticism

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 2:20pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  A retired Anglican priest from Australia who has been chosen to lead the Anglican Centre in Rome on an interim basis has sought to rebuff criticism about his beliefs in the resurrection. The former dean of St George’s Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia, John Shepherd, was appointed as interim director last week following the resignation of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi.

Read the entire article here.

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‘The church will be there,’ Presiding Bishop tells Florida hurricane survivors on long path to recovery

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 6:25pm

Judy Hughes, head of school, leads Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on a tour of Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City on Jan. 12. The school is undergoing extensive repairs after being damaged in Hurricane Michael. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service.

[Episcopal News Service – Panama City, Florida] A current of human electricity ran through the large crowd that had filled the sanctuary at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church. Post-hurricane emotional fatigue gave way to an undeniable, positive energy. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry could feel it.

“I have to admit, I wish it had been a different name than Michael,” Curry said, opening with a joke that generated a hearty laugh from the room of Hurricane Michael survivors, easily 300 strong.

When the rapidly intensifying storm made landfall near here on Oct. 10 with an estimated windspeed of 155 mph, some of these residents of Florida’s Panhandle lost everything or nearly everything. Even those who fared better than most awoke to a landscape forever altered and daily life upended – trees gone, homes damaged or destroyed, businesses darkened, schools closed, jobs up in the air and a coastal region facing the uneasy question of how many of their neighbors would be coming back.

Curry spent last weekend in and around Panama City on a pastoral visit to these communities three months after the storm, encouraging them to share their stories of recovery and assuring them that The Episcopal Church has not forgotten or given up on them.

“To hear what you have done and are doing, therein is hope and grace and the power of love,” Curry said Jan. 12 at Holy Nativity during the first of two listening sessions organized by the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. With the crowd filling every pew and spilling over to folding chairs on the sides and a standing area in the back, he praised them for their perseverance in the face of disaster.

Episcopalians here gave Curry a warm welcome literally from the moment he stepped off the plane at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The airport manager is a parishioner at Holy Nativity and greeted Curry at the gate.

Holy Nativity Episcopal School’s campus has been closed since Hurricane Michael, though classes are being held in portable classrooms nearby. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Curry’s first stop Jan. 12 was Holy Nativity Episcopal School, a few blocks from the church of the same name in The Cove, a beach-side neighborhood filled with modest houses and stunning oak trees. Because Hurricane Michael passed just east of Panama City, the powerful Category 4 winds were aimed out to sea, sparing the city a devastating storm surge, but at that strength the wind did plenty of damage on its own, including to the school.

One of the trees felled by the storm landed on the school’s roof, creating a gaping hole over the school’s lobby and one of its classrooms, but as the presiding bishop arrived accompanied by Bishop Russell Kendrick, the progress on repairs was remarkable. A new roof was in place and renovations were well underway inside.

“Holy cow, they’ve gotten a lot done,” Kendrick said.

Judy Hughes, Holy Nativity’s head of school, welcomed them into the lobby and kicked off her tour with a short video about the storm damage and repairs. A projector and screen were set up on floors still stripped to the base boards, and the group watched the video standing under exposed rafters.

Hughes’ goal is for her students to return to this school building by the fall, but their temporary accommodations are themselves quite an achievement. “We were the first school in Bay County to open,” Hughes said proudly. Classes resumed Oct. 29 in the hallways, courtyard and any other available spaces at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, and additional space provided for by St. Thomas by the Sea Episcopal Church in Panama City Beach.

Teachers and students have since moved into 15 portable classrooms set up like a makeshift educational village on vacant land behind the Holy Nativity church, and spirits are running high again, Hughes said. The school, which teaches preschool to eighth grade, had about 285 students enrolled this year, and only about 20 have yet to return after the hurricane.

Curry thanked Hughes for the tour. His goal in scheduling this visit months after the storm was “to remind the church you’re still here.”

“The church will be there 10 years from now,” Curry said later, during the short drive from the school to the church. The vehicle passed a man jogging through The Cove. “We’re long-distance runners. We’re not sprinters.”

Panama City was spared a storm surge during Hurricane Michael, but with windspeed reaching an estimated 155 mph, damage in the city was widespread. Debris piles still are a common site. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Communities still in the thick of recovery

If storm recovery is a marathon, these coastal communities are in the early miles of the race.

Some properties have been cleared of downed trees and storm-tossed vegetation, while others appear untouched and frozen in a state of disarray. The smell of cut wood emanates from certain parts of Panama City, especially near lots that have been converted to mulching grounds.

Residents say in the initial aftermath of the hurricane a massive amount of household debris was hauled to the curbs. Walls of junk rose along the sides of residential streets broken only by the gaps left for driveways. Now neighborhoods are beginning to look like neighborhoods again, with debris heaps still scattered here and there, some towering taller than houses – furniture, bricks, drywall, large appliances, siding, anything that might have broken free or been damaged during the storm.

Some gas stations have reopened despite missing the roofs over their pumps. Many other businesses appear closed, either temporarily or for good. Those that have reopened struggle to get that message across with signs that say, “Yes We Are Open.” Business signs that have yet to be repaired speak in a kind of post-hurricane dialect. “SEAFOOD MARKET” becomes “EAF ARKE,” and “MARINE SERVICE” is now “MARI E ERVICE.”

More than $5 billion in losses have been reported in insurance claims from Hurricane Michael in Florida. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The ubiquity of roof damage has launched thousands of homeowners on simultaneous searches for available roofers, creating a service backlog. Blue tarps are the most common stopgap until repairs can be made. Some roofs no longer exist to be repaired, either blown away or collapsed into the building, and occasionally there is no building left either, just a pile of rubble waiting to be cleared.

More than $5 billion in losses have been reported in insurance claims in Florida, according to the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation, with most of the claims coming from Panama City, Mexico Beach and other communities in Bay County.

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, with financial and logistical assistance from Episcopal Relief & Development, has worked closely with the eight Episcopal churches that sustained significant damage during Hurricane Michael, though all were able to resume Sunday services within two weeks of the storm.

On the day of Curry’s listening session at Holy Nativity, the roof was still clad in blue tarp and other protective materials. The session inside was a mix of laughter and tears, applause and “amens,” as about two dozen Episcopalians from across the region rose to speak to Curry about their experiences during and after the hurricane.

They shared stories of first responders’ heroic work, of one congregation’s homeless parishioners camping out in the parish hall, of neighbors sharing information over downed fences, of students glad to return to school to see their friends, of residents chipping in any way they could to help each other and of a shared desire to return to daily life.

Curry thanked them for their stories, saying they echoed what he had heard from Episcopalians during his visit last month to the Diocese of East Carolina, which is recovering from its own disaster after Hurricane Florence.

“They started asking, who is our neighbor?” Curry said. “Who may be worse off than we are? … We’re kind of all in it together.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Steve Bates listen to Episcopalians share their stories of Hurricane Michael at a listening session Jan. 12 at Bates’ Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Panama City. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Anna Eberhard said afterward that the presiding bishop’s visit was a tremendous personal boost for her and her family. Eberhard, a teacher at Holy Nativity Episcopal School and a member of the church, was displaced after the storm, forced to move more than hour away in Walton County until their house is repaired.

She and her two daughters still make the trip back each weekday for school, but by the weekend, they are too tired of traveling to attend Sunday services. “I’m without my church home,” she told Episcopal News Service, so returning to the church and her congregation for this session with Curry gave her “the feeling of the Holy Spirit.”

‘Serve each other in his spirit’

Curry’s second listening session was held at St. James Episcopal Church in Port St. Joe, a smaller coastal community east of Panama City. On the drive to Port St. Joe, the presiding bishop passed through Mexico Beach, the small community that was hit hardest by Hurricane Michael. This region felt the brunt of Michael’s powerful storm surge, which virtually wiped out Mexico Beach.

The community of Mexico Beach was virtually wiped out by the storm surge from Hurricane Michael. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

What is left of the community looked like a war zone, with buildings reduced to scrap or badly damaged. Roofs, if not missing altogether, were patched with blue tarp. The main road through town was dotted on the roadside by pile after pile of debris, and part of the road was down to one lane where roadway was eroded by the storm and had yet to be restored.

The scene in Port St. Joe was nearly as bleak, though the neighborhood around St. James is farther inland and was mostly spared the worst of the waves.

A crowd of about 125 people filled the church for Curry’s listening session. The tone was more subdued than in the morning session, but nearly 20 people stood to share their stories from Hurricane Michael.

Melina Elum, a member of St. James, told of hunkering down in her Port St. Joe home with her husband during the storm, “wondering if we were going to live.”

Elum said she prayed to God out loud and made a lot of promises while asking for protection. When the ordeal of the storm was over, “it was a relief, but it was also a responsibility when I realized what I promised,” she said. “I have more to do now because of that.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Tommy Dwyer listen to residents share their hurricane stories at Dwyer’s St. James Episcopal Church in Port St. Joe, Florida, on Jan. 12. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Anna Connell, who moved to Mexico Beach with her three children about three years ago, worked a nurse at Bay Medical Sacred Heart Hospital in Panama City. When the storm hit, the family fled, and when they returned their house was gone. Connell also was left without a job because part of the hospital was destroyed.

Connell struggled to hold back tears as she told Curry about a phone conversation she had with her father after the hurricane. He told her to pray, so she did.

“It was the first time in my life that I ever completely gave myself to God. It was very humbling,” she said. “I still don’t have a plan, but I have peace.”

Curry thanked her and gave her a hug.

“The truth is, none of us has the strength to do it by ourselves,” he told the crowd. “Together we can.”

The next morning, Curry concluded his visit to the diocese by participating in Eucharist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Panama City. During the hurricane, trees fell onto the administrative building at St. Andrew’s, crushing part of the roof, but the roof had been rebuilt by the time of Curry’s visit.

The church itself sustained only minor damage, so on the first Sunday after the storm, the congregation was able to return and worship there. That day, the Rev. Margaret Shepard, rector at St. Andrew’s, invited parishioners to write on poster-size paper their emotions on the theme “What Has Made You Sad/Angry” in the hurricane’s aftermath, a coping exercise recommended by an Episcopal Relief & Development official.

Among the responses: “So much loss and destruction.” “It made my aunt go away.” “Nothing is the same.” “Fear of starting over.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches Jan. 13 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Panama City, Florida. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The parishioners’ words were still on display as the sanctuary filled with more than 200 people for the service Jan. 13.

“Y’all got to listen. This Jesus has something to say,” Curry urged the congregation in his half-hour sermon. “He knows the way of life. … Follow him, love him and serve each other in his spirit.”

For a community that may be experiencing a collective fear of starting over, the call to serve each other echoed some of the responses that parishioners had added to a second sheet of paper hanging in the sanctuary, which asked “What Bright Spot Have You Found?”

“Neighbors sharing and getting to know one another.”

“The deep goodness of people.”

“Coming to church!”

“God’s comforting presence.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Episcopalians across the country respond to federal shutdown’s impact

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 6:16pm

[Episcopal News Service] As the effects of the longest federal government shutdown in United States history ripple across the country, many Episcopalians are feeling the economic pinch even as others try to help their neighbors cope.

“I understand what’s at stake. I understand that it is bigger than just my paycheck but, it is my paycheck,” Episcopalian Christopher Dwyer, a veteran who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, told NBC News’ Lester Holt on Jan. 10.

Dwyer, who is a member of Christ Church Bloomfield Glen Ridge and a seminarian at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey, told Holt that he soon might have to find other work, saying his unemployment insurance will eventually run out. (While rules vary by state, unemployment benefits generally pay a percentage of the recipient’s salary and federal workers will reportedly have to repay their benefits if they receive back pay.)

From school tuition deferrals to free firewood to anxiety support groups, the responses run the gamut in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, on Native American reservations and in seaside communities.

The reservations are among the hardest-hit because of their dependence on federal aid of all sorts. That dependence was enshrined centuries ago in treaties between tribes and the U.S. government in which the tribes gave up huge territories for many guarantees, including money for services like health care and education. The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides those services, either directly or through grants to 567 federally recognized tribes. All told, about 1.9 million American Indian and Alaska Natives are impacted.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Chairman Rodney Bordeaux has said that 74 percent of the tribe’s budget revenue is federal money. Bordeaux and other tribal leaders plan to go to Washington this week to meet with lawmakers.

The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley, superintending presbyter of the Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West) in South Dakota and the Rev. John Floberg, priest-in-charge on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Episcopal Mission, both told Episcopal News Service that the tribal governments are considering shutting down parts of their operations because they lack federal grant money.

Stanley said she is getting calls asking for help with electric bills and for propane. The local electric co-op is working with furloughed federal workers, but other reservation residents are getting desperate, she said. That is where the mission’s Firewood for the Elders program comes in. Stanley said South Dakota temperatures have been “okay”; it was 38 degrees the afternoon of Jan. 14, but snow is forecast for Jan. 18 with an expected high of 17. Stanley said the program is giving out wood not just to older tribal members but to any families affected by the shutdown and to furloughed workers.

People are worried about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP or EBT as it is known on the Rosebud Reservation. Recipients’ January benefits were available on Jan. 10 and it has been announced that February money will be put in people’s accounts on Jan. 20. Stanley said she worries that some people will not budget out that money to last through the end of February.

While the USDA has said its Commodity Supplemental Food Program will make its planned February deliveries, Stanley said a lot of the food isn’t arriving and recipients are getting rainchecks to redeem when it does arrive.

“The Rosebud Episcopal Mission is committed to helping those most in need,” Stanley told ENS.

And, people across the country have been asking her how they can help, offering donations of material goods, money and gifts cards. Stanley is telling people that money and gift cards are best because each family has different needs.

The partial government shutdown entered its 24th day on Jan. 14, making it the longest in U. S. history, as Congress and President Donald Trump remain at a loggerheads over his demands for billions of dollars for a wall on the southern border. On this record-setting day, Trump rejected a suggestion that he allow the government to temporarily reopen while negotiations continued about border security.

About 800,000 federal employees, more than half of whom are still working, did not get paid on Jan. 11. Congress has sent Trump a bill to give those workers back pay once the shutdown ends. The president has said he would sign it.

Such promises, however, do not help furloughed workers’ cash flow now and so Episcopalians are stepping up. For example, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington, D.C., told parents on Jan. 7, the day that school resumed after the Christmas holidays, that parents who are federal employees or contractors and having difficulty paying tuition and fees can defer those payments without late fees. They will have to set up a repayment plan later.

Head of School Peter A. Barrett told ENS Jan. 14 that many Episcopal schools are no doubt finding themselves in similar situations, especially in the Washington area.

For some federal employees, the needs are more basic. Lord’s Pantry, a ministry of St. James Episcopal Church in New London, Connecticut, Eleanor Godfrey told a local television news station that the pantry was waiting to help.

“This is probably the best place to come to get food. I certainly hope the people who are involved in this shutdown don’t become prideful because St. James we’re here for you and we want you to come down here,” said Godfrey, the pantry’s manager.

Above 7,000 federal employees work in Connecticut and the federal government is a major employer in the southeastern part of the state where New London is located on Long Island Sound. New London is home to the Coast Guard Academy. Coast Guard employees are furloughed because they are part of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the departments effected by the partial shutdown.

The pantry is getting the word out via social media as well.

The Community Soup Kitchen at Christ Church Episcopal in New Haven, Connecticut, is telling furloughed workers they are welcome. “St. Paul tells us in scripture that the laborer deserves to be paid. And we hope that the government will reopen and workers who are working will be paid,” the Rev. Stephen Holton told a local NBC television station. “Everyone deserves a meal, and this is a place where you can receive it. Come and come and be fed. Come and be fed together,” he said.

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Jackson Cupboard, a food pantry at St. John’s Episcopal Church is partnering with Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies to host a special mobile food pantry on Jan. 15.

When 4Saints Episcopal Food Pantry posted the announcement below, it was shared 25 times, an unusual amount for the pantry, leading Director Judy Cariker to think there’s a need out there.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, the Very Rev. Alexis Chase, vicar of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta, took to Facebook Jan. 14 to offer “furloughed friends” the chance for some comfort.

“Furlough Bible Study” is just one of the ways that St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in northwest Washington, D.C., is trying to help. The Bible study for

“those with unexpected time in your day and a desire to gather with fellow sojourners” begins Jan. 16. On that same day, St. Columba’s Mother’s Group will host a professionally led conversation with practical advice about how to manage anxiety and its impact.

“Some of you have told me that, even though you’ve lived through government shutdowns in the past, this time feels particularly scary,” the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, St. Columba’s rector, told the congregation on Jan. 9. “Others have told me that you’re scrambling to figure out your finances, calculating the toll on your savings in the absence of a paycheck. This is a time to come together, to take care of one another, and to take care of our neighbors.”

Laughlin said prayer ought to be Episcopalians’ first response. St. Columba’s is including all affected by the shutdown in its Sunday and daily prayers.

(Province II of The Episcopal Church has offered “A Litany for those affected by the government shutdown” here. http://www.province2.org/litany—shutdown.html)

St. Columba’s is also “crowdsourcing and identifying resources” for people who may be facing hardship for the first time and do not know where assistance is available for food or other necessities, he said.

And, Laughlin urged parishioners who need financial help to contact him and he also asked those who “have enough to help someone else” to be in touch with him.

The Episcopal Church is also responding with advocacy in Washington. Its Office of Government Relations has called for an end to the shutdown, saying that “shutting down our government is a failure of leadership and recognition of the responsibility that comes with being an elected official.”

“The government shutdown has far-reaching implications for our country as it impacts the livelihoods of federal employees and their families; as well as of those relying on federal support for food, housing, medical services, and more; and, the vital government services such as airport security, mortgage and student loan processing, and a wide suite of services the federal government is responsible for delivering in Native American communities,” the office said in a Jan. 9 statement.

Basing its comments on church policy as set by General Convention, OGR said Congress and the Administration need to work together to address legitimate security needs, to ensure the government’s legal responsibility to process asylum seekers, treat all migrants with humanity and respect, and enact policies to address root causes and help alleviate the conditions that drive forced migration in Central and South America.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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Queen Elizabeth honors former Mothers’ Union Worldwide President Lynne Tembey

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 3:03pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former worldwide president of the Mothers’ Union, Lynne Tembey, is to be awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE). The award is part of Britain’s system of honours and is presented by the Queen or a senior member of the royal family acting in her place. The announcement of the award was one of a number made as part of the annual New Year’s Honous list published by the United Kingdom government. Last year, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby honored Tembey with the Cross of St Augustine, ahead of her retirement at the end of 2018.

Read the entire article here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury cautions against political mood over UK’s Brexit debate

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 3:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken out against an increase in personal attacks and threats in the midst of the United Kingdom’s debate about its withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Speaking in the House of Lords – the upper house of the UK Parliament – this week, Welby said that “the most serious and visible aspect is the personalised nature of the threats outside the House against Members of the [House of Commons] especially, whether personally, online or by other means.”

Read the entire article here.

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Respuesta del Obispo Primado a la Carta Pastoral y Directriz del obispo William Love del 10 de noviembre de 2018

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 11:51am

Después de amplia consulta con el liderazgo de la Iglesia Episcopal y continuas discusiones tanto con el Rvdmo. William Love de la Diócesis Episcopal de Albany como con el Comité Permanente de la Diócesis Episcopal de Albany, el obispo primado Michael Curry ha dictado la siguiente Restricción sobre el Ministerio del obispo Love:

Oficina del Obispo Primado

Restricción parcial sobre el ministerio de un obispo
El Rvdmo. William H. Love, Obispo de Albany

En las últimas semanas, he sabido de —y he analizado— una Carta Pastoral y una Directriz Pastoral a su diócesis emitida por el obispo Love de la Diócesis de Albany el 10 de noviembre de 2018, respecto a la continua aceptación de la Iglesia del uso de un rito experimental para la celebración de matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo en la Iglesia en conformidad con la Resolución B012 de la Convención General en 2018. Copias de la declaración del obispo Love y de la Resolución B012 pueden encontrarse aquí y aquí. En esa declaración, el obispo Love expresa su creencia de que el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo es contrario a la Escritura y a la “enseñanza oficial” de esta Iglesia y en consecuencia instruye que los matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo no pueden ser celebrados por ningún clérigo que resida canónicamente en su diócesis o que tenga licencia [para ejercer en ella], y exige pleno acatamiento al Canon XVI de la Diócesis de Albany que prohíbe al mismo clero de “oficiar en”, “facilitar” o “participar en” tales matrimonios; prohíbe el reconocimiento de tales matrimonios en esa diócesis y prohíbe el uso de la propiedad de la Iglesia como el sitio de tales matrimonios.

Luego de sostener discusiones con el obispo Love,  emití un comunicado en respuesta parcial el 12 de noviembre de 2018, una copia del cual se encuentra aquí. Representantes de mi oficina se han reunido desde entonces con miembros del Comité Permanente y con el Canciller de la Diócesis de Albany.

Estos documentos y discusiones constituyen la base de la decisión temporal que ahora tomo respecto al ministerio del obispo Love como Obispo de Albany. Si bien estoy persuadido de la sinceridad y buena voluntad del obispo Love en estas difíciles circunstancias, estoy convencido de que la intención de la Convención General fue que la Resolución B012 fuese obligatoria y vinculante para todas nuestras diócesis, particularmente a la luz de su disposición de que un obispo diocesano “que sostenga una posición teológica que no acepte el matrimonio para [tales] parejas” y confrontado por el deseo de una pareja del mismo sexo de casarse en la diócesis de ese obispo, “invitará, según sea necesario, a otro obispo de esta Iglesia a brindarle apoyo pastoral a la pareja, al miembro del clero que participe y a la congregación o comunidad de culto a fin de cumplir con la intención de esta resolución de que todas las parejas tengan un conveniente y razonable acceso congregacional local a estos ritos”. Estoy por tanto persuadido de que, como Obispo Primado estoy llamado a tomar medidas para garantizar que el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo en la Iglesia Episcopal está a disposición de todas las personas en la misma capacidad y bajo las mismas condiciones en todas las diócesis de la Iglesia donde el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo es legal conforme al derecho civil.

Reconozco que la conducta del obispo Love a este respecto puede constituir un delito canónico conforme al Canon IV.4(1)(c) (“cumplir con las promesas y votos hechos durante la ordenación”) y al Canon IV.4(1)(h)(9) (“cualquier conducta impropia de un clérigo”), y que [pruebas de] esa conducta se le ha[n] remitido al Rvdmo. Todd Ousley, Obispo para el Desarrollo Pastoral and Gestor para asuntos disciplinarios concerniente a los obispos. En consecuencia, a fin de proteger la integridad de la norma y el proceso disciplinario de la Iglesia y, por ende, el buen estado y bienestar de la Iglesia, y en conformidad con  los Cánones IV.7(3), (4), y IV.17(2), impongo por la presente la siguiente restricción parcial al ejercicio del ministerio del obispo Love:

Durante el período de esta restricción, al obispo Love, actuando individualmente,
o como obispo diocesano, o en cualquier otra función, le está prohibido
participar en manera alguna en el proceso disciplinario de la Iglesia en la
Diócesis de Albany en cualquier asunto tocante a cualquier miembro del clero
que implique la cuestión del matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo.

Ni participará en ningún otro asunto que tenga o pueda tener el efecto de penar
de alguna manera a cualquier miembro del clero o del laicado o a una
congregación de culto de su diócesis por su participación en las disposiciones o
participación en un matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo en su diócesis o en
cualquier otra parte.

Esta restricción entra en vigor inmediatamente y se mantendrá hasta que se resuelva cualquier asunto del Título IV pendiente contra el obispo Love. En el ínterin, yo o quien me suceda, de extenderse este asunto después de mi mandato, revisaremos periódicamente la continua necesidad de esta restricción y la enmendaremos o levantaremos según proceda.

Este documento se le presentará al obispo Love en el día de hoy y por la presente se le informa de su derecho a presentar cualesquier objeciones a esta restricción en conformidad con el Canon IV.7.

(Rvdmo.) Michael Bruce Curry
XXVII Obispo Primado de la Iglesia Episcopal

Fechada:  11 de enero de 2019

The post Respuesta del Obispo Primado a la Carta Pastoral y Directriz del obispo William Love del 10 de noviembre de 2018 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Albany bishop is barred from punishing priests for same-sex marriages, faces disciplinary review

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:33am

Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany tells General Convention on July 11 during the House of Bishops debate on liturgical marriage-equality Resolution B012 that passing the measure would force him to violate his ordination vows. Photo: Episcopal Church video

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has temporarily restricted part of Diocese of Albany Bishop William Love’s ministry because of Love’s refusal to allow same-sex marriages even after General Convention mandated liturgical marriage equality in the church’s U.S. dioceses.

Love is “forbidden from participating in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage,” Curry said in a document released Jan. 11. The restriction applies to both to the Episcopal Church’s formal Title IV disciplinary process and to any action “that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere.”

The restriction appears to enable Episcopal Church clergy in the upstate New York diocese to solemnize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, something Love steadfastly refused to allow.

Curry also said Love’s conduct surrounding the issue “may constitute a canonical offense,” namely for violating his ordination vows and for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. The presiding bishop has referred Love’s refusal to obey convention’s Resolution 2018-B012 to the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, the church’s bishop for pastoral development and intake officer for disciplinary matters involving bishops. In the church’s Title IV disciplinary process, an intake officer’s role is to obtain as much information as possible about the alleged misconduct, short of a full investigation. His or her key goal is to decide whether or not the facts presented, if any were true, would constitute an “offense” under the canons.

Bishop William Love has led the Diocese of Albany for 12 years. Photo: Diocese of Albany

The restriction on Love will remain in effect until any Title IV process pending against him is resolved, Curry said. The presiding bishop added that he, or the next presiding bishop if the process extends beyond the November 2024 end of his term, will “review the continued necessity of this restriction from time to time and amend or lift it as appropriate.”

“While I am persuaded of the sincerity and good will of Bishop Love in these difficult circumstances, I am convinced that Resolution B012 was intended by the Convention to be mandatory and binding upon all our dioceses,” Curry wrote.

He said that, as presiding bishop, “I am called upon to take steps to ensure that same-sex marriage in the Episcopal Church is available to all persons to the same extent and under the same conditions in all dioceses of the church where same-sex marriage is civilly legal.”

Love was out of the office conducting a funeral service on Jan. 11 and not immediately available to comment for this story, diocesan communications officer Meaghan Keegan told Episcopal News Service by email. “He will be issuing a statement in the coming days,” she wrote.

The dispute arose when Love said Nov. 10 that he would not allow same-sex couples to be married by priests in the Diocese of Albany. He acknowledged that he could face disciplinary proceedings by the church for refusing to obey convention’s requirement.

Shortly after Love released his pastoral letter, Curry affirmed General Convention’s authority, saying that “those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the church.” Curry said in his Jan. 11 statement that he spoke with Love and consulted with a broad range of Episcopal Church leaders before reaching his decision.

How the actions of General Convention led to this decision
General Convention in 2015 authorized two marriage rites for trial use (via Resolution A054) by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The bishops and deputies also made the canonical definition (via Resolution A036) of marriage gender-neutral.

A054 said that the bishops of the church’s domestic dioceses needed to give their permission for the rites to be used. (The Episcopal Church includes a small number of dioceses outside the United States in civil jurisdictions that do not allow marriage for same-sex couples.) A054 says that, even if opposed same-sex marriage, all bishops “will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.”

There was widespread acceptance of the rites across the church. However, eight diocesan bishops in the 101 domestic dioceses did not authorized their use. They were Love, Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer, Dallas Bishop George Sumner, Florida Bishop John Howard, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt and Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs.

The eight bishops required that couples wanting to use the rites be married outside their dioceses and away from their home churches. Some bishops, including Love, refused to allow priests in their diocese to use the rites anywhere.

Last July, convention attempted to remedy to the situation by passing the the often-rewritten and often-amended Resolution B012, which went into effect on the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2. Bishops and deputies moved the authority for deciding to use the rites from the diocesan bishop to parish priests. B012 said diocesan bishops who do not agree with same-sex marriage “shall invite, as necessary,” another Episcopal Church bishop to provide “pastoral support” to the couple, the clergy member involved and the congregation. Some of the eight bishops have interpreted B012 as requiring – or allowing them to require – the involvement of another bishop.

Love, who has refused to honor B012 at all, made his opposition to it clear during General Convention. In a House of Bishops debate on July 11 Love spoke for nearly 10 minutes, despite being told that he was exceeding the agreed-to two-minute individual limit. He said the passage of B012 would put him in the awkward position of violating of his ordination vows because its intent goes against the word of God found in Scripture, which ordained Episcopalians vow to uphold. “There has been a lot of discussion as we have struggled with this issue over the past several years on whether or not sexual intimacy within that of a same-sex couple was appropriate,” he said.

“There are many in this church who have proclaimed that it is and that this is a new thing that the Holy Spirit is revealing and that the Episcopal Church is being prophetic in putting this forward, and ultimately the rest of the body of Christ will come to understand that.”

He said he did not believe “that that’s necessarily true.”

Love added that the church has listened to people’s personal experiences and to their “feelings, their emotions, but we have not had an honest look at what God has said about this issue and how best to help people who find themselves in same-sex relationships.”

Love argued in his eight-page pastoral letter that obeying B012 would cause him to destroy rather than “guard the faith, unity and discipline of the church,” as he and all bishops vow to do during their ordination and consecration. In addition to that vow, all ordained Episcopalians pledge to “conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.”

Love said that while he respects the authority of General Convention “as an institutional body,” his “ultimate loyalty as a bishop in God’s holy Church is to God.”

He also argued that obeying Resolution B012 would require him to violate his vow to uphold the Albany canons, one of which (Canon XVI here) forbids diocesan clergy from officiating, participating or facilitating same-sex marriages in public or in private. “Unions other than those of one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony, even if they be recognized in other jurisdictions, shall be neither recognized nor blessed in this Diocese,” the canon says.

At the end of his letter he said that “until further notice” the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 “shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed).”

As the diocese awaited the presiding bishop’s decision, Love brought the controversy into his Christmas message, likening his journey to the unanswered questions that Mary and Joseph faced when they responded to God’s call. “Are we, like Mary and Joseph, willing to risk our reputations, our relationships, our jobs and livelihood?” he asked in part.

Meanwhile in the other seven dioceses
Love is the only one of the church’s 101 domestic diocesan bishops who is flatly refusing to conform to B012. Gumbs is the only one of the eight who previously refused to allow use of the rites has told his clergy to offer them without further obstacles.

Central Florida and Dallas have canons that restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, in addition to Albany. Brewer in Central Florida and Sumner in Dallas have turned over to another bishop part of all of their pastoral oversight of any congregation that wishes to provide the rites, as has North Dakota’s Smith. Martins in Springfield has said he plans to do the same.

Florida’s Howard has said he would do the same, however some in that diocese have told ENS they are confused and worried about his process to accomplish that delegation.

Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt has yet to articulate his policy, although he had pledged to have a process for enacting B012 sometime this month.

Read more about it

  • The presiding bishop said Love’s disciplinary process will center on two sections of Title IV: Canon IV.4(1)(c) (“abide by the promises and vows made when ordained”) and Canon IV.4(1)(h)(9) (“any Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy”). Those part of canons can be found on pages 206 and 207 here. The canons define conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy as “any disorder or neglect that prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the Church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the church or the holy orders conferred by the church.”
  • The text of Curry’s restriction on Love is here.
  • More information about how Title IV proceedings cane be found on this interactive website.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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Episcopalians in Florida Panhandle prepare to welcome Presiding Bishop on post-hurricane visit

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 5:46pm

Damage from Hurricane Michael is still visible in late October at Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City, Florida, as teachers and staff pack up items to take to temporary classrooms until the school can reopen. Photo: Holy Nativity Episcopal School, via Facebook.

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will welcome Presiding Bishop Michael Curry this weekend as he visits some of the Florida Panhandle congregations that still are rebounding from damage sustained by Hurricane Michael in October.

Curry’s pastoral visit to the diocese will focus on congregations in and around Panama City, near where Michael made landfall Oct. 10 as a devastating Category 4 hurricane. At 155 mph, it was said to be one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the mainland United States. The diocese says eight churches were damaged by the storm, as well as one Episcopal school that still has not yet been able to return to its own classrooms.

“The presiding bishop’s visit with us this weekend will be a powerful reminder of the best of bonds between us, and that bond is love,” Bishop Russell Kendrick said in an emailed statement. “Together we are stronger, and we will continue to find new life.”

A man walk past buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 11. Photo: Reuters

The scene on the ground looked bleak immediately after the storm, but three months later, the diocese expects to present Curry with stories of resilience and mutual support. Diocesan leaders paired unaffected congregations that had extra resources with those struggling the most during the recovery phase.

“The churches themselves, our congregations, are past the initial stages, whether it’s shock or just disbelief that it happened. They are building back their lives together,” Chris Heaney, the diocese’s emergency response coordinator, told Episcopal News Service by phone. “They certainly inspire me because they’re very much relying on each other.”

Hiring Heaney was one of the Kendrick’s first responses to the hurricane, just days after Michael struck, as he coordinated the diocese’s efforts with help from Episcopal Relief & Development and local clergy who had lived through previous hurricanes. Heaney, senior warden at Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola, to the west of Panama City, is a retired naval officer who was available to work full-time on a six-month assignment for the diocese.

The diocese identified eight churches with properties that were significantly damaged by the storm: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Panama City; Grace Episcopal Church and St. Thomas by the Sea Episcopal Church in Panama City Beach; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Marianna; St. James Episcopal Church in Port St. Joe, and St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Wewahitchka.

Heaney said the storm’s track spared most of those communities the severe flooding that hurricanes often bring, but the winds were intense, leaving roofs tattered, walls battered and trees down.

Sixteen congregations that weren’t affected by the storm were paired with the eight congregations expressing the greatest need for money, supplies, administrative support or volunteer labor. Heaney’s own Christ Episcopal Church and St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope, Alabama, were assigned to support Holy Nativity.

“It can’t be easy, and every time I talk to them, they’re in good spirits dealing with hard things,” Heaney said.

The storm initially disrupted worship schedules, but none of the damage to the church buildings was severe enough to prevent any of the congregations from resuming services within two Sundays of Hurricane Michael’s landfall. They now are in the process of following up with insurance claims to complete repairs.

A more disheartening scene was found at Holy Nativity Episcopal School, which Heaney said was the property in the diocese in the worst shape after the hurricane. The wind was particularly destructive to the school’s second floor, severely damaging the walls, roof and a bell tower.

Students aren’t expected to return to the school any sooner than this fall, Heaney said, but their education is proceeding. St. Thomas by the Sea in Panama City offered space at the church to the students for classes until they moved into temporary classrooms set up on the grounds of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church.

The school is one of the first stops on Curry’s two-day visit to the area. He will inspect the damaged school building Jan. 12 before making his way to two listening sessions with hurricane victims, one at the Holy Nativity church at 10 a.m. and the other at St. James in Port St. Joe at 3 p.m. He also is scheduled to preach Jan. 13 at St. Andrew’s in Panama City.

The pastoral visit comes just a month after Curry made a similar trip to the Diocese of East Carolina, which was hit hard by Hurricane Florence in September. He heard stories from Episcopalians of neighbors helping neighbors, and the stories of surviving natural disaster will continue this weekend in Florida.

“One thing that it seems that everyone in the area needs is the ability to just talk about what happened,” Heaney said.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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‘Clergy in Cars’ shows feature Episcopal priests taking their faith talk on the road in Texas

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 5:35pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry appears last fall in an episode of “Clergy in Cars” with the Rev. Paul Klitzke in this screengrab. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service’s senior report, is expected to appear on an upcoming episode.

[Episcopal News Service] Texas is a big state with many miles of roads, so it need not be surprising that Episcopal clergy from at least two different Lone Star congregations – could there be others? – have produced separate online video series featuring priests talking in cars while driving places, sometimes to get coffee.

Think Jerry Seinfeld, but with clerical collars and no cursing.

Both video series have been modeled loosely after Seinfeld’s accurately named “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” In the Diocese of Dallas, the Rev. Paul Klitze’s “Clergy in Cars” series features a rotating cast of guest priests and bishops, including one episode featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. In the Diocese of Texas, the Rev. Daryl Hay and the Rev. Matt Stone give their own faith-based takes on popular culture in “Clergy in Cars Getting Coffee,” which also made a special appearance in July at General Convention in Austin.

“For me, what has been important is experiencing and creating these moments when people get to see clergy and priests are real people … the foibles and the humanity,” said Stone, curate at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Bryan, Texas. Hay is the congregation’s rector.

On Klitzke’s series, those “real people” moments have included Curry talking in October about how his iPhone serves as a spiritual aid, for scheduling Bible readings and reminding him of his monthly fasts.

“Anything can be used for good or ill, so our job as the people of God is to take it and let it be used for good,” Curry told Klitzke, rector at Episcopal Church of the Ascension.

The same principle could be applied to social media. Texas Bishop Andrew Doyle “encourages us to go into the spaces where people gather, and Facebook is one of the places where people gather,” Hay said. He and Stone spoke to Episcopal News Service by phone – the same phone Stone uses to film the duo’s videos.

“It’s, like, an iPhone 5,” Stone said of his older-model device. “It’s definitely a priest’s phone.”

The idea for the video series had been bumping around in Hay’s head for a while, but “it was something I would never have done if Matt hadn’t been here. He made me do it.”

“He shared the idea. And I said, great, when do we do it?” Stone recalled.

Stone, ordained as a priest a year ago, was a deacon when he joined St. Andrew’s in summer 2017. That September, he and Hay pushed “record” on their first Facebook Live video on the congregation’s Facebook page. The live viewership of that inaugural “Clergy in Cars” was tiny, but they were amazed when, over time, it amassed more than 4,000 replay views.

The congregation’s Facebook page also has increased its “likes” by about 25 percent over that period, another triumph that Hay attributes to the videos. (Those likes now are nearing 450, though the priests have since spun off the video series into its own Facebook page with nearly 300 likes.)

Though Hay and Stone sometimes invite guests along for the ride, including for special episodes of “Clergy Carpool Karaoke,” most videos are 10 to 15 minutes of the pair’s own priestly banter as they drive to Sweet Eugene’s, a coffee shop in College Station, Texas. Stone generally handles the technical side of things, with his iPhone stuck to the windshield, while Hay drives.

“For us, it’s been a way to engage popular culture and build some bridges,” Stone said. An early episode referenced movies, from “Star Wars” to “Love Actually.” “We want to help people build bridges between their faith and their everyday life.”

Facebook Live offers the added benefit of allowing real-time engagement, Stone said, and they invite viewers to join them at the coffee shop when the camera stops recording, creating an opportunity for real-world connections.

There is no regular schedule for the videos at this point, though at minimum they are seasonal, with an episode last month for Advent and another planned around Ash Wednesday for Lent. One of Stone’s favorite moments, though, wasn’t gabbing in a car but rather interviewing Doyle at General Convention and getting the bishop’s impression of Big Tex, a 50-foot statue and icon of the State Fair of Texas.

“It was just wonderful,” Stone said. “Getting behind the curtain with a bishop, for me that was something really unique and special. We’re letting people see something they might not otherwise.”

Klitzke shares his cross-Texas counterparts’ interest in social media experimentation as a tool for spiritual enrichment and evangelism, though he also sees his video series in Dallas as window into what clergy talk about when they talk with each other.

In cars. And clergy in Texas spend a lot of time in cars.

Klitzke and the Rev. Rebecca Tankersly, associate rector at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, were driving back from a preaching conference when their discussion turned to the topic of what makes for a typical clergy-to-clergy discussion.

“We were having these great theological conversations … everything from serious theology down to fun whatever,” Klitzke recalled. That’s when he first hatched the idea for “Clergy in Cars.” “Why not try to capture what this looks like? And my hope was it would make the whole church more accessible to people.”

After launching the series in August with the Rev. Leslie Stewart of Resurrection Episcopal Church in Plano, Texas, as his first guest passenger, Klitzke scheduled about one episode a week, posting every Tuesday to YouTube and Facebook and each about 15 minutes. More recently he has been averaging about one new episode a month.

With a few hundred people viewing most of the videos, sometimes a thousand, the episode featuring the presiding bishop went “viral” and topped 20,000 views. Interviewing Curry was “a joy,” Klitzke said, but he also clearly had fun asking Dallas Bishop George Sumner in the show’s second episode whether the bishop preferred tacos or BBQ after three years in Dallas.

“I really, really like the tacos,” Sumner said. “However, after three years, I’ve liked them too much, and I am on my low-carb phase. … It’s all brisket right now.”

After that light-hearted opening, Klitzke and Sumner shifted away from the culinary and got deeper into to the theological, a format that the show has repeated with fellow Episcopal priests and a diverse lineup of clergy from other faith traditions.

One question Klitzke tries to ask all his guests is what they see as the pre-eminent social issue facing people of faith today.

“It was something I had been wrestling with,” he said. “I have found the variety of answers to be really meaningful.”

Unlike Hay and Stone, Klitzke prerecords his videos rather than stream them live. His gear is just a windshield-mounted GoPro camera. After some complaints about the audio quality, he also invested in a better microphone.

The equipment isn’t as important as the content of the conversation, though Sumner’s answer to Klitzke’s question about social issues took on the spiritual cost of technology.

“I think that one of the great issues of our time is the way in which technology continues to mean that machines intervene between us as we try to relate to one another as humans,” Sumner said. “These machines will actually change our brains, but I think they also affect our souls.”

The fact that such dialogue happened in a car instead of a church may be irrelevant to the clergy on camera, but by sharing with his audience, Klitzke hopes to breathe new life into “the way we do formation.” He and his guest are modeling theological reflection, in a way, for those who may be interested in doing the same.

“To me, it’s an extension of preaching and teaching,” he said.

And if anyone thinks the resemblance to Seinfeld’s much-more-polished Netflix production might be a coincidence, Klitzke has no problem setting the record straight.

“It’s a complete knockoff,” Klitzke said, with at least one obvious exception. “I tell people, I can afford a cup of coffee, but I can’t afford a film crew.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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